Categories: Close-ups

Fetid Surprise

By Published On: February 18, 2011
Fetid Surprise

The leaves of Fetid Adder’s Tongue, Scoliopus bigelovii, pop out like a beacon below the shaded cover of redwood forest canopy.  Just last week, I was strolling along the trails of Muir Woods, minding my own business, when I could practically hear it’s whispered shouting, “Hey, I’m over here…!  Look at me!”  A poignant, botanical moment.  Especially when, upon closer examination, I realized there was a flower there too.  Winter blooming, fungal gnat loving and “fetid” for a reason.  Specialized, showy and stinky in just the right way, attracting its evolutionary partner and pollinator.

S. bigelovii is found only in the coast ranges of California, with maybe a small population in Southern Oregon, preferring the dimly lit redwood forest floor.  To find it is like finding a treasure.  A wildflower of unique architecture in, what seems to be, the depths of winter.  Providing a charming element of surprise and an illuminating spark for the garden, the best always coming from nature.

To learn more about Fetid Adder’s Tongue read the Left Coast Naturalist.

Think Like a Native
Garden Approach


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About the Author: Emily Murphy

I’ve learned there’s something wonderfully powerful in the simple act of growing. Here, in our gardens, we can repair ourselves and our plots of earth with our own two hands. GROW WHAT YOU LOVE and GROW NOW!

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